On March 6, Cook County Health Office of Behavioral Health announced that it will award $44 million in grants over a 26-month period as part of its Stronger Together: Building a More Equitable Behavioral Health System in Cook County Initiative.

The Stronger Together Initiative aims to address behavioral health inequities across the region’s system of care through increased systems alignment, enhanced system quality, and the expansion of access to early intervention and prevention, treatment, support, recovery, and crisis assessment and care.

The open call for proposals begins on March 6 and will close on April 17 at 5 PM. Awardees will be notified in June.

This initiative, led by the Office of Behavioral Health at Cook County Health (CCH) is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury, under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated to CCH by Cook County Government.

“This is your government in action: creating new opportunities for local organizations to do their essential work in the communities they serve,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “Cook County is investing in hyperlocal behavioral health interventions because we know that we are stronger together, as a city, a county, and a nation, when we care for those who are too often left behind.”

“Through this grant program, Cook County government and Cook County Health are strengthening the capacity and collaboration of community organizations to advance behavioral health care across the region,” said Cook County Health Interim CEO Dr. Erik Mikaitis. “It is critical that we invest in behavioral health services that are equitable, effective, and accessible.” 

Proposals are being accepted by community health centers, community-based organizations, education agencies, faith-based organizations and federally qualified health centers. Proposals should:

  • Advance the behavioral health of Cook County’s youth and families by supporting the development, maintenance, or expansion of programs and services that increase availability and access to early intervention, wraparound services, and trauma-informed care, and/or address health-related social needs.
  • Improve screening and integrated care support through the development, maintenance, or expansion of existing programs and services that improve access and overall effectiveness of coordinated screening and early intervention care for adults and older adults with mild to moderate acuity and/or substance use disorder services.
  • Increase access and coordination to treatment, recovery, and support services for youth and families AND adults and older adults by supporting the development, maintenance, or expansion of existing programs and services that increase access and coordination to a full continuum of age-appropriate trauma-informed, culturally competent, linguistically responsive prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
  • Amplify community awareness and engagement of “Somewhere to Call” and “Someone to Respond” by supporting the development, maintenance, or expansion of existing programs and services that increase communities’ awareness and engagement with someone to call and someone to respond and increase access and coordination of care to provide the right response to the person in need.
  • Build up the “Somewhere to Go” for youth and families, and adults and older adults in the crisis response system by supporting the development, maintenance, or expansion of existing support the development, maintenance, or expansion of existing age-appropriates programs and services that increase community awareness and engagement and work to move crisis care from emergency departments to safe and appropriate place to go.

“The needs before us are vast and growing.  The increasing prevalence of mental health disorders and the expanding gap between the demand and supply for these services have reached crisis levels, particularly in historically under-resourced communities,” said Dr. Thomas Nutter, Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Cook County Health. “We at the Office of Behavioral Health consider this to be a generational opportunity to steward investment of resources into our systems of care and prevention—particularly in under-resourced communities.”

For more information, visit https://cookcountyhealth.org/strongertogether.`